POLICE arrest an average of nearly 100 children a week in South Yorkshire and quizzed more than 5,000 last year according to new figures.
South Yorkshire Police arrested 5,094 boys and girls aged 10 to 17 last year, down from 6,235 in 2010, 7,439 in 2009 and 8,974 in 2008, according to the figures published as part of The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign.
The number of youngsters quizzed about crimes dropped by 43 per cent.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “It is pleasing to see South Yorkshire Police is arresting fewer children than in the past. I hope this trend continues.
“Children who get into trouble are more often than not just being challenging teenagers and how we respond to this nuisance behaviour could make a difference for the rest of their lives.
“An arrest can blight a life and lead to a criminal record for just being naughty. The positive change in policing children will release resources to deal with real crimes.
“Only a handful of children are involved in more serious incidents and they usually suffer from neglect, abuse or mental health issues.
“A commitment to public safety means treating them as vulnerable and ensuring they get the help they need to mature into law-abiding citizens.
“Previously, police success was measured by the number of arrests and children proved a way to make up numbers.
“The fact the number of child arrests across England and Wales has fallen by a third since 2008 is a testament to a change of culture, more focused on public safety than targets.”
Across England and Wales, last year, police made more than 209,000 arrests of children.